Practice Report: Burners

Top '12 recruit Andrus Peat living up to the hype

Fatigue was palpable coming off Stanford's practice field Thursday morning. Players spoke in noticeably quieter tones during interviews while David Shaw explained that a long string of double-day fall camp workouts is taking its desired toll on the team.



The Grind
"I expect them to be tired," David Shaw said. "But I expect them to still get their assignments done, and still go as fast as they can go, and still be as physical as they can be. That's football. You don't get to not be physical just because you're tired."

While other teams across the country are gearing up for their first games next weekend, the Cardinal have not begun to plan for San Jose State, who visits on September 7, after a first-week bye. Shaw's staff will begin preliminary game planning next week. Meanwhile, players will maintain the physically taxing trajectory of fall camp through those initial coaching preparations.

"Every single person out here is putting 110 percent out, so it's like a band of brothers," wide receiver Devon Cajuste said. "If we're all suffering, we're all going to suffer together. It makes it makes it a little easier, and we all tend to enjoy the pain at the same time."

After a midday break, the team reconvened at 4 p.m. for its second practice session of the day.



Burners
For the first time in three seasons, Shaw may finally have a critical mass of game-breaking speed at the wide receiver position. Fueled by his approximately 230-pound size, Cajuste, a player who was extremely effective run blocking in the back half of the 2012 season, has already secured the 'X' starting spot. Meanwhile, junior Ty Montgomery, sophomore Michael Rector, and sophomore Kelsey Young are all healthy and primed to add another dimension to Stanford's offense.

Rector told The Bootleg Radio that he recently ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, while his coach reported that both Montgomery and Young are also running in the 4.4 range.

"Last year, [Mongtomery] was banged up," Shaw said. "This training camp, he's faster than he was his freshman year. Michael Rector started out like gangbusters in camp last year, and then he got banged up [and redshirted]. Those are two guys with serious speed who are healthy now."

Earlier this month, The Bootleg examined the Stanford passing game's drop in explosiveness last season. Shaw hopes that a cluster of speedy targets provides a fix in 2013. Plus, he's confident that the junior Montgomery, who posted an impressive 2011 campaign, is in excellent shape to lead the position group.

"[Montgomery's] got the speed; he's got the intent," Shaw said. "He's worked on the craft and on the specifics of the position. He's learned how to catch the deep ball. That's been part of the process for him: not having a high school quarterback with the arm of the guys we have here."

Shaw, a former Stanford wide receiver himself, has provided positional expertise for Montgomery and his teammates over camp, but he's stopped short of running routes with them.

"God no," he gasped. "There's a reason why I'm not limping right now."



Special Teams Progress
Shaw said that Montgomery and Young have also emerged as Stanford's kick returners. He hopes that a healthy No. 88 will supply some of the special-teams benefits that Chris Owusu brought to the Cardinal when he electrified Stanford Stadium returning kicks about four years ago.

"The goal is make people change how they kick the ball," Shaw said. "I think [Montgomery] can do that, and Kelsey can as well."

At punt returner, Kodi Whitfield has a slight edge over Montgomery and Barry Sanders for the job to replace the dependable Drew Terrell. Shaw has been happy with the performance of all three players.

Position Battles
Battles at center, cornerback, and outside linebacker have yet to be resolved. This past Saturday, Shaw told The Bootleg that leaders would emerge "in about a week," and he stayed true to that timetable Thursday morning when he told reporters that the picture at those positions would clear at the beginning of next week.

A Massive Left Tackle
There's been plenty of national buzz surrounding Stanford's offensive line. Some publications have even rated it the country's best. At first blush, that would be surprising, given that the Cardinal are planning on lining up a first-year starter to protect their quarterback's blind side, after all.

But sophomore monolith Andrus Peat, a top 2012 recruit, is creating an exception to the rule.

"He's 6-6, 315 pounds, and he moves like a tight end," Shaw raved. "He's fast, quick and explosive. Linebackers can't run around him because he's so athletic."

Shaw admits that he isn't an expert on tackle depth across college football yet in 2013, but he does think that Peat's physical gifts and performance thus far is rapidly thrusting him into the upper echelon of the position.

"I'd be curious to know how many better tackles there are going to be in the nation," Shaw said. "We haven't had anyone with the athletic ability that Andrus has. There's no ceiling. We're talking a special category."




David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.

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